Tom Hanks and wife test positive for coronavirus TRANSCRIPT: The Rachel Maddow Show

Ron Klain

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  And that – I mean, that is a – it`s a

psychological shift that they`re asking for, from leaders as well as from

us. But it`s deep stuff. And I don`t have a lot of faith in this president

to handle things at that level.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”:  I think the most promising signs are

things that we`re seeing from local levels and civil society.


MADDOW:  Yes, state and local governments doing this without guidance from

the federal government in terms of when stuff should be shut down.


Well, we`re heading to the start of the speech right now. We are preparing

to hear from the president in the Oval Office.


In terms of the president`s choice to be giving an Oval Office address

here, the president`s choose to speak from the Oval as a way of signaling

gravity of a moment, seriousness of a national response in recent times and

Oval Office address have become pretty rare.


President Obama, eight years in the White House, gave three Oval Office

addresses total, the first one on the catastrophic Deep Water Horizon oil

spill. President Bush, likewise, served eight years, President George W.

Bush, he actually delivered a half dozen Oval Office addresses, his first

was on the night of the 9/11 attacks.


Since President Trump has been in office, he has spoken from the Oval only

once before. And that was looking back at it, kind of hard to see that it

deserved it. It was before a government shutdown over funding for a wall on

the Mexican border.


Well, tonight`s address comes amid a cascade of closures. Again, these are

decisions that have largely been made, as Chris was saying, at the state

and local level, as those officials are making their own decisions about

what ought to be shut down, what schools ought to be closed, and when, and

what workplaces ought to be closed and when, what events ought to be

stopped and when. This all happening as fears about the coronavirus, fears

about the economy, have begun to take hold.


The president will address those fears now.


My fellow Americans, tonight, I want to speak with you about our nation`s

unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China

and is now spreading throughout the world.


Today, the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a

global pandemic.


We have been in frequent contact with our allies, and we are marshalling

the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect

the American people.


This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign

virus in modern history. I am confident that by counting and continuing to

take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our

citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.


From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen

challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats. This

is the way it always was and always will be. It only matters how you

respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism.


Our team is the best anywhere in the world. At the very start of the

outbreak, we instituted sweeping travel restrictions on China and put in

place the first federally mandated quarantine in over 50 years. We declared

a public health emergency and issued the highest level of travel warning on

other countries as the virus spread its horrible infection.


And taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of

the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe.


The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel

from China and other hotspots. As a result, a large number of new clusters

in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.


After consulting with our top government health professionals, I have

decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health

and wellbeing of all Americans.


To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all

travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules

will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted

subject to conditions on the ground.


There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate

screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous

amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval.

Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing.

These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom.


At the same time, we are monitoring the situation in China and in South

Korea. And, as their situation improves, we will reevaluate the

restrictions and warnings that are currently in place for a possible early



Earlier this week, I met with the leaders of health insurance industry who

have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments, extend

insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical



We are cutting massive amounts of red tape to make antiviral therapies

available in record time. These treatments will significantly reduce the

impact and reach of the virus.


Additionally, last week, I signed into law an $8.3 billion funding bill to

help CDC and other government agencies fight the virus and support

vaccines, treatments, and distribution of medical supplies. Testing and

testing capabilities are expanding rapidly, day by day. We are moving very



The vast majority of Americans: The risk is very, very low. Young and

healthy people can expect to recover fully and quickly if they should get

the virus. The highest risk is for elderly population with underlying

health conditions. The elderly population must be very, very careful.


In particular, we are strongly advising that nursing homes for the elderly

suspend all medically unnecessary visits. In general, older Americans

should also avoid nonessential travel in crowded areas.


My administration is coordinating directly with communities with the

largest outbreaks, and we have issued guidance on school closures, social

distancing, and reducing large gatherings.


Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow.


Every community faces different risks and it is critical for you to follow

the guidelines of your local officials who are working closely with our

federal health experts – and they are the best.


For all Americans, it is essential that everyone take extra precautions and

practice good hygiene. Each of us has a role to play in defeating this

virus. Wash your hands, clean often-used surfaces, cover your face and

mouth if you sneeze or cough, and most of all, if you are sick or not

feeling well, stay home.


To ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home

without fear of financial hardship, I will soon be taking emergency action,

which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief. This will be targeted

for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to



I will be asking Congress to take legislative action to extend this relief.


Because of the economic policies that we have put into place over the last

three years, we have the greatest economy anywhere in the world, by far.


Our banks and financial institutions are fully capitalized and incredibly

strong. Our unemployment is at a historic low. This vast economic

prosperity gives us flexibility, reserves, and resources to handle any

threat that comes our way.


This is not a financial crisis. This is just a temporary moment of time

that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world.


However, to provide extra support for American workers, families, and

businesses, tonight, I am announcing the following additional actions: I am

instructing the Small Business Administration to exercise available

authority to provide capital and liquidity to firms affected by the



Effective immediately, the SBA will begin providing economic loans in

affected states and territories. These low-interest loans will help small

businesses overcome temporary economic disruptions caused by the virus. To

this end, I am asking Congress to increase funding for this program by an

additional $50 billion.


Using emergency authority, I will be instructing the Treasury Department to

defer tax payments, without interest or penalties, for certain individuals

and businesses negatively impacted. This action will provide more than $200

billion of additional liquidity to the economy.


Finally, I am calling on Congress to provide Americans with immediate

payroll tax relief. Hopefully they will consider this very strongly.


We are at a critical time in the fight against the virus. We made a life-

saving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action

with Europe. We will not delay. I will never hesitate to take any necessary

steps to protect the lives, health, and safety of the American people. I

will always put the wellbeing of America first.


If we are vigilant – and we can reduce the chance of infection, which we

will – we will significantly impede the transmission of the virus. The

virus will not have a chance against us.


No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States. We

have the best economy, the most advanced healthcare, and the most talented

doctors, scientists, and researchers anywhere in the world.


We are all in this together. We must put politics aside, stop the

partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family.


As history has proven time and time again, Americans always rise to the

challenge and overcome adversity.


Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine. Acting with compassion

and love, we will heal the sick, care for those in need, help our fellow

citizens, and emerge from this challenge stronger and more unified than

ever before.


God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.


MADDOW:  President Trump giving a rare Oval Office address on the subject

of the coronavirus. About 11 minutes in the Oval Office there, the

president, with a sort of strange affect, he doesn`t have an easy time

reading from the teleprompter, it`s got to be stressful for anybody to give

a speech from the Oval Office from a teleprompter like that but the

president seeming to struggle a little bit to get the words out.


But there`s some significant news on what the president just announced. The

United States is suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for

the next 30 days. He said that will go into effect Friday at midnight, he

said there will be exceptions. He didn`t spell them out. But he talked

about people who are adequately screened will be excepted from that, and

something about cargo, it wasn`t clear, but he said there would be

exceptions and then he added that there would be an exception for the U.K.


So, travel from Europe will be suspended to the United States for the next

30 days. There will be exceptions, they`re woolly, but specifically the

U.K. will be exempted from that.


I`m – not to single out the U.K. except for the fact that the president

has. The last numbers that I saw from the U.K., it`s like it is – has been

an island in terms of being isolated from the crisis. It is technically an

island. But they`ve got cases, they`ve got 456 cases, slightly lesser than

the half that we`ve got but significantly smaller population, eight deaths

I think reportedly already as of the U.K., and why they have been exempted

from this otherwise radical, potentially unprecedented action, I don`t



Let`s bring into the conversation now, once again, my friend Chris Hayes,

host of “ALL IN” and also, Ron Klain. Ron Klain had a key role in the Obama

administration who was put in charge by President Obama in response to the

Ebola epidemic and he also been chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden.


Ron, I`ve been planning on having you here for a long time tonight, and it

is fortuitous that you are here on a night when we have a surprise Oval

Office address from the president.


Let me ask you about your top line response to a travel suspension from




it looks like. I mean, the president boasts of the travel ban he put on

from China several months ago. There were 13 exceptions to that ban. And

the fact of the matter remain, obviously the disease came here from China.




KLAIN:  For example, the ban was a very business-friendly ban. It didn`t

prevent people from bringing boatloads of goods and Chinese crews to

deliver those boatloads of goods and you heard a hint of that in the

European travel ban tonight. Of course, it doesn`t ban Americans from

coming back, after some restrictions, that`s a lot of the transit back and

forth. So, I think there`s a lot of bluster in these travel bans. There`s

so far hasn`t been much public health results in these travel bans and the

fundamental point here, Rachel, is this – is this disease is here. We

don`t know how much it`s here because we haven`t tested to find out how

much it`s here, but it`s here.


And restricting foreign travel may slow the pace of the further spread

here, but the president should have focused tonight on what he is doing in

this country to protect the American people from this disease that is here

already and we didn`t hear much about that tonight.


MADDOW:  Chris?


HAYES:  You know, the expression, when all you have is a hammer and

everything looks like a nail. When all you have is a wall, everything looks

like an invasion, and that is the way they approached it from the



We have reporting that inside of the White House, that there was sort of

self congratulatory about the president banning travel from China, even

though there would be huge loopholes. They thought that would mean it

wouldn`t come here. That was some of the complacency that they`ve had.


It is profoundly worrying to me, the president is still talking about this

in the way that he talks about the migrant caravan, about some foreign

invasion that can be kept out with strong measures. It`s in the country and

transmitting now. We are on the epidemic curve of the country of Italy, the

place where he`s banning travelers from. It may be at the margin smart or

not, to do the travel ban, it is not the issue.


I mean, correct me if I`m wrong, but spending all day talking public health

folks, and epidemiologists for the last week, there are dramatic steps that

need to be taken and coordinated and taking a lead from the federal

government on social distancing and disruption of daily life that was, he

didn`t make more than 1/20 of that speech.


MADDOW:  I will say, I don`t mean to fixate on the U.K. exception, but that

feels like the exception that proves the rule that proves the irrationality

of what he`s doing and just looking at numbers, again, confirmed cases from

various European countries which are now going to be subject to a travel

ban. Countries like Belgium have fewer cases than the U.K. does, Austria,

Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia, Romania, Germany – I mean, Georgia, all of

these countries have fewer cases than the U.K., and they`ll be banned but

the U.K. is all right to send people here.


KLAIN:  Look, I think part of this, Rachel, is the classic Trump

distraction tactic. He wants to see progressives debate the travel ban so

on and so forth, and not come after where he has failed. We have tested

five people out of a million in this country. In Korea, they tested 2,000

out of every million in their country. There is no reason when South Korea

doesn`t have technology we don`t have or health care system we don`t have,

or anything we don`t have.


It is a failure on the leadership of the Trump administration. He is doing

anything he can to move the conversation elsewhere and talk about something

else, and not focus to the fact that even tonight, even in that Oval Office

address, all he can say about testing is, we`re going to do more of it,

sometime – 




KLAIN:  – some number of people.


MADDOW:  We`re getting to it.


KLAIN:  We`re getting there.


That`s job one. That`s job number one.


MADDOW:  It also struck me to hear the president bluntly say for the vast

majority of Americans, the risk is very, very, very low. Assuring Americans

thought you`re not going to get it.


Meanwhile, what we`re hearing from public health folks is, we should

prepare that in epidemiological terms, it`s quite likely you might get it.


HAYES:  Right.


MADDOW:  And that`s the sort of thing we need to plan for and we need to be

planning our capacity, our public health capacity as a country to deal with



KLAIN:  Right. I mean, our health care system, as wonderful as it is, has

very limited capacity. We have a million hospital bed capacity and 700 to

800,000 of them are full.


It does not take much of an epidemic to overwhelm those systems, to have

happen here what is happening in Italy, in northern Italy, and I think that

again – once again, you heard the president make some slight references of

this tonight, but if – I think if a competent president giving that

address, would have been first and foremost about fixing the testing

problem and getting our health care system ready for this influx of cases.


HAYES:  He also just to – you know, in terms of the way he`s approached

this primarily is an economic issue and in the meetings he`s had with

various CEOs and connected industry groups, he announced what it sounded

like a $200 billion tax deferral, on the industries.


MADDOW:  Yes, under emergency power he will tell the treasury to defer tax

payments for individuals and business – certain individuals and



KLAIN:  Yes.


HAYES:  Yes. Again, there`s a real question here, about what the actual

economic relief looks like. From an efficacy standpoint, is what is it

actually happening people, and from a distributional standpoint and frankly

from a corruption standpoint in terms of what the president and his donors

are connected to.


MADDOW:  Is that fair?


KLAIN:  I think it is fair. I mean, again, always with Trump, it`s not what

he says, it is what he does, and we need to see who will benefit from the

tamp deferrals and where the money is going, you know, given his track

record, it`s not unfair to ask those questions tonight.


MADDOW:  All right. We`re going to take a quick break. Ron, I have lots

more questions for you.


Chris, I thank for letting me step on your real estate.


HAYES:  Thank you. No, thank you for –  


MADDOW:  And having me here.


Again, the president concluding an oval office address on coronavirus. It

was a weird one.


We`ll be right back. Stay with us.




MADDOW:  The government of Brazil has a relatively new very, very, very

right wing bombastic, new president and a radical new right wing

government. The press minister in that government, sort of minister for

communications, is himself a controversial senior official. In Brazil last

month, the federal police in Brazil announced he was under investigation

for embezzlement and serious corruption allegation. He`s accused of self

dealing from his position in government.


That combination of factors about a foreign leader makes it seem almost

inevitable that a very, very right wing, allegedly super corrupt, very

controversial official like that would naturally end up this past weekend

at Mar-a-Lago. Where else?


The press minister of the Brazilian government was in Mar-a-Lago this

weekend. He brought with him a make Brazil great again hat. He was

photographed meeting with the president. He gave him one of those hats. The

president`s holding it.


You can see him there in the picture today. Their arms pressed against each

other, big smiles from both of them.


Today, that Brazilian government official has been quarantined and is

waiting for results of a coronavirus test according to local press in

Brazil. He is suspected of having the virus.


Again, that was him at Mar-a-Lago this past weekend, Saturday, with the

president of the United States.


The president`s new White House chief of staff is also under quarantine, as

we speak. As is this Republican congressman who rode on Air Force One with

the president on Monday. As is this Republican congressman who shook hands

with the president, wrong guy, Doug Collins is who we want, this Republican

congressman shook hands with the president on Friday and met him face to



The president is in his 70s. He`s 73 years old. By virtue of that age, that

puts him at political risk for serious illness. If he, God forbid, ever

actually contracted the coronavirus, the president does seem to have had a

lot of face to face contact with a lot of people who have been exposed to

the virus, even just over the past week or so.


It`s one of the sort of eerie things about this rapidly accelerating global

pandemic, that the physical person of the president, not just as a leader,

but as a vulnerable person himself, and potentially a vector of

transmission himself, is part of what we have to think about in our

national news. Even tonight, as the president gave a rare oval office

address, announcing that elderly people need to be particularly careful and

should avoid unnecessary travel, even as the president announced tonight

that his latest action on coronavirus will be banning travel from Europe to

the United States starting Friday and inexplicably banning U.K. from that



It is inexplicable to ban the U.K. from that ban because the U.K. has

nearly 500 cases of its own, and a bunch of deaths. So, nobody knows why he

would allow travel from the U.K. and not from any other European countries,

including countries who have fewer cases than that. But that`s what he

announced live from the Oval Office moments ago.


Today, the sergeants-at-arms for the House and Senate announced they`d

called off tours of the U.S. Capitol. People come from all over the

country, all over the world to do those tours. Those were off for the time

being. State Department also announced today they will eliminate all travel

for State Department personnel unless it is considered to be, quote,

mission critical.


After the city of Washington, D.C. declared a public health emergency

today, all of the Episcopal churches in the D.C. area announced that they

will close, at least for a couple of weeks. This means Episcopal churches

in Northern Virginia and in the D.C. suburbs of Maryland, even the National

Cathedral, will close, which is inside D.C. city limits.


In New York City today, they canceled the St. Patrick`s Day parade. It had

been scheduled for next week. As we reported last night in the middle of

our election coverage, in the great state of Michigan last night, they

reported their first cases of coronavirus. The governor declaring a state

of emergency today, the state Supreme Court in Michigan said all jury

trials, all civil trials and criminal trials that have juries in the state

of Michigan should be adjourned, should be put off for the duration of the

state of emergency unless there is actually a person being held in jail

awaiting that trial, those jury trials will all be put off.


Again, those are state courts in Michigan. Not federal courts. But I

believe for the first time we`ve seen that kind of a closure around the

country. Today in Congress, one the nation`s most trusted public health

officials, Tony Fauci, of the National Institute for Allergies and

Infectious Diseases at NIH, Fauci was asked by a seemingly sort of annoyed

Republican congressman from Wisconsin to please give his perspective on how

bad this is all going to get in this country, and what we should try to do

rationally to improve our prospects here.


The line of question quickly and, sort of, oddly, turned to basketball.




REP. GLENN GROTHMAN (R-WI):  Based upon the currents trajectory how many

people do you think will get this new virus and how many people do you

think will die?



INFECTIOUS DISEASES:  I cannot predict and that`s –


GROTHMAN:  I know you cannot predict. But we have the graph, we have the

beginning of the graph, we know this is going to go up, we have the

experience of China, we have the experience of Italy.


FAUCI:  Yes.


GROTHMAN:  Can you – can you give us some projections?


FAUCI:  It is going to be totally dependent upon how we respond to it. So I

can`t give you a number. If we now sit back complacently –


GROTHMAN:  I`m not asking you to be complacent. I`m asking for a realistic

– I mean, that`s what the public is looking for –


FAUCI:  I can`t give you a realistic number until we put into the factor of

how we respond. If we are complacent and don`t do really aggressive

containment and mitigation, the number could go way up. And be involved in

many, many millions. If we talk to contain, we could flatten it. So there`s

no number answer to your question, until we act upon it.


GROTHMAN:  I`ll give you a question that nobody talks about, every night,

they play like, I don`t know, eight to ten NBA games and nobody talks about

shutting them down. Is the NBA under reacting?


FAUCI:  We would recommend that they not be large crowds. If that means not

having any people in the audience, while the NBA plays, so be it. But as a

public health official, anything that has large crowds is something that

would give a risk to spread.




MADDOW:  We would recommend that there not be large crowds. Anything that

has large crowds is something that would give a risk to spread. Fauci says

if that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so

be it.


We sort of knew we were heading there but there it is. Senior NIH official

saying there shouldn`t be large crowds in the United States anymore.


We as a country should no longer have events with large crowds, including

professional sporting events, shy tell you, just as we got on the air

tonight, the Oklahoma Thunder was due to be hosting the Utah Jazz, they had

issued a 30-minute delay for the start of that game, and then ultimately

they postponed that game tonight. So that NBA game is off. That is just

happening moments ago.


Soon after, Dr. Fauci`s comments today, about basketball and large crowds

in Congress, the NCAA – the NCAA announced that this year`s March Madness,

NCAA basketball tournaments, both the men`s games and the women`s games,

will be played without audiences there to watch those games.


And you know, it`s not just this Oklahoma Thunder, Utah Jazz game getting

postponed tonight. It looks like other NBA franchises are now tipping over

into caution on these matters.


Today, the mayor of San Francisco instituted a ban on gatherings of more

than a thousand people, making clear that that explicitly includes Golden

State Warriors games. Golden State Warriors will tomorrow play against the

Brooklyn Nets. And that game is scheduled to go on. But there will be

nobody in the audience.


Just south of San Francisco, Santa Clara County, they`re banning all

gatherings of a thousand people as of midnight last night. That will

include San Jose Sharks hockey games, among many other things.


Governor of Washington state today, Jay Inslee, announcing that in three

hard-hit counties of his state, King County, Snohomish County and Pierce

County, from here on out, they will ban, the government will ban gatherings

of more than 250 people. All Seattle schools are also being shut down for

two weeks.


New York today, the governor announced that City University of New York,

CUNY, and State university of New York campuses, SUNY campuses, will all be

shut down.


And whether or not these types of actions by state and local officials feel

draconian to you, American officials are still playing at the very low end

of the kinds of interventions in daily life that may be tried at some

point, that may be necessary to try to steer this pandemic away from its

worst case trajectories. In recent days, we have seen Italy, for example,

go from trying to quarantine the whole northern part of the country, to

ordering a nationwide quarantine of everyone in the country, tens of

millions of people ordered by their government, all Italian citizens

ordered by their government to stay inside and avoid gatherings of any

kind. Weddings and funerals, banned.


As of today, the Italian government has gone a step further, ordering the

closure of all stores of every kind other than pharmacies and food stores.

Think about what the Italian economy is going to look like within days.


And the upward curve of the outbreak in Italy, just looking at the raw

numbers there, shows you why the government there is taking these severely

draconian – these draconian measures, right? But the upward curve of the

epidemic in Italy is also a cautionary tale, particularly for us, about

what exponential growth really looks like, in an epidemic, where the virus

is such that every infected person on average is infected two to three



The math with an epidemic like that is terrible. It`s devastating. I mean,

look at Italy, January 31st, Italy had two people known to be infected and

within a week, that had risen to three people. Two weeks after that, they

were up to 17 people. And three days later, by February 24th, 219 people.

Four days later, February 28th, 821 cases.


Just over a week later, March 6th, 3,916 cases. And four days later, as of

yesterday, it`s 10,149 cases, and that`s yesterday. Today, it`s up to

12,462 cases.


And that`s the epidemiological mushroom cloud exploding in Italy. And you

know, it`s not like Italy has had its head buried in the sand. Italy closed

schools. Italy canceled large gatherings. And we saw the sports matches in

empty sports stadiums and they did it, they didn`t tinker around the

interventions as they saw their numbers starting to rise and now, Italy is

in a nationwide border to border lockdown, as they try desperately to at

least slow the spread.


Imagine an order in this country to close every retail establishment in the

country that was not a pharmacy or a food store. That`s the order from the

Italian government tonight and a nation of 60 million people.


And every country is different. And surveillance methods are different. But

the virus appears to be behaving the same pretty much everywhere. And so,

we can see the pattern of how the virus spreads, how numbers go up. I mean,

look at Washington state, here in the U.S., February 26th, they had one

case. A week later, March 3rd, they had 31 cases, and the day after that,

March 4th, 43 cases, less than a week later, March 9th, 166 cases. That was

two days ago. Today, there`s 366 cases and climbing.


Washington state announcing five new deaths just today. All associated with

nursing homes, and long-term care facilities. We spoke with the Washington

Governor Jay Inslee on the show the other day and I asked him about that,

at that point, 100 plus cases in the state and he said, yes,

epidemiologically what we think we probably got is closer to a thousand

cases which within seven weeks we expect Washington state to have 64,000

cases, in that one state.


In the United States, more broadly, we don`t know, because our government

still hasn`t gotten it together to test people, at any noticeable level,

still. South Korea has been testing 10,000 people a day, since February. We

found out about our first cases around the same time that South Korea did.

They`re casting – they`re testing 10,000 people a day and have been since

last month. We still haven`t tested 10,000 people total over the entire

course of this epidemic in this country. We`ve got more than six times

their population. So imagine how big our mushroom cloud can get.


But the federal government, the Trump administration, botching the rollout

of testing for this virus, it continues to set the United States apart. FT,

“The Financial Times” in London today put out this graph showing how well

countries are doing testing for the virus, testing, of course, the first

crucial step in identifying cases, isolating and treating people with the

virus, tracing their contacts to stop the virus from spreading further.


And you can see, you know, South Korea at the top there, absolute rock

star. Look where we are on this. The only reason that France is below us

because they`re only publishing the rate of testing they`re doing every

day, not the total cumulative number of tests they have done. France says

they`re doing about a thousand tests a day, which is way above us, we

should be so lucky to get near that kind of a pace, and we`re a country of

300 million people that`s already got a thousand cases and dozens of



But even with basically zero usable information on the size of the American

epidemic, because of next to zero American testing, because of the failure

by the federal government on that front, the numbers would do have are

still bad. They`re still rapidly trending upward. I mean, from the publicly

available data that we`ve got a week ago, we Americans are at 160 cases,

over the weekend, we were at 545 cases, as of today, we`re at more than

1100 case, and again, that`s just what is known. That`s just interest from

this sliver, a tiny, tiny sliver of people who can manage to get tested.


The attending physician of Congress on the U.S. Supreme Court told Senate

staff yesterday in a closed door meeting, first reported by “Axios”, since

confirmed by NBC News, attending physician of Congress told Senate staff,

he expects at the end of the day, ultimately, the number of Americans who

contract coronavirus will be in the range of 70 million – 70 million at

the low end, 150 million on the high end.


Which means if it continues to be the case, that 15 to 20 percent of people

who get this virus end up seriously ill, and potentially needing

hospitalization. If those estimates are right, that would mean we would be

looking for hospital beds for somewhere between 10 million and 30 million



Thirty million people requiring hospitalization for serious illness? On top

of all of the other things we need to use hospital beds for in this

country? Thirty million people? Thirty million Americans?


I mean, and the kinds of serious illness that you get from this disease, I

mean, we`re talking about, you know, potentially intensive care beds,

intubation, being put in a ventilator and all of that, 10 to 30 million

people, do we have the capacity to do that?


If we know now that is what is coming, how do we even start to create the

capacity for that?


After the Ebola crisis in 2014, President Obama created something called

the Directorate for Global Health Security and Bio Defense at the National

Security Council. It`s basically pandemic preparedness as a White House



President Trump got rid of it, fired the guy who was running it, fired his

whole team, got rid of him, didn`t replace him. Got rid of the whole global

health security unit at the National Security Council and at Homeland

Security as well and even at the Pentagon.


His global health security teams existed. They were put in place for a

reason. The U.S. government had seen fit because of the experience with

Ebola and other novel challenges, to set those things up, inside the

federal government, so we wouldn`t be starting from zero, so as to prepare

us for a moment like this. President Trump in inexplicably, affirmatively

moved to fire those people and get rid of that function of the federal

government for reasons that remained unclear and unexplained even this far

into this current and absolutely petrifying crisis.


The president tonight announcing a ban on European travel. Nobody will be

allowed to travel from Europe to the United States starting Friday unless

you`re coming from the U.K., in which case it`s fine, each even though the

U.K. isn`t any less susceptible to the virus than any other European

country, which is now going to be facing the ban.


We`re joined next by somebody who knows what the federal government is

supposed to be doing in a situation like this because he used to command

those efforts in a previous administration. That`s next. Stay with us.




MADDOW:  Breaking news tonight, I was just talking about the odd role that

basketball is playing in our national confrontation of the reality of the

coronavirus crisis, and the need to take actions that affect daily life, to

limit it, that came up in a pointed way in Congress today, when the NIH`s

Tony Fauci, one of the most respected health officials in America, and one

of the most recognizable said, when asked about the NBA playing games in

front of stadiums full of people said the U.S. should avoid at this point

large gatherings and he said if that means the NBA should play in front of

no fans, so be it.


Well, since we have been on the air tonight, we had a development along

that line. The NBA has now announced the suspension of their season. I`m

just going to read you their press release.


The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminary tested

positive for COVID-19. The test results was reported shortly prior to the

tipoff of tonight`s game between the Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder at

Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma. At that time, tonight`s game was

canceled. The affected player was not in the arena.


The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight`s

schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to

determine next step for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus

pandemic. So, again, moments ago, we heard that game had been delayed and

then called off. We now know why it was. Again, the Utah jazz player

preliminary tested positive. That game off tonight. The NBA season has been



Also since we`ve been on the air tonight, somebody you know by name, Tom

Hanks, academy award winning actor tom hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson,

have announced that they have both tested positive for coronavirus. Tom

hanks announcing it tonight in a tweet, saying the couple, they`re in

Australia right now, they began to feel tired, colds, body ache, slight

fever and Rita Wilson apparently additionally had some chills, quote, Rita

had some chills that came and went.


Quote, to play things right as is needed in the world right now, we were

tested for the coronavirus and were found to be positive. Well, now, what

to do next? The medical officials have protocols that must be followed. We

Hanks` will be tested, observed and isolated as long as public health and

safety requires. Not much more to it than a one day at a time approach, no.

We will keep the world posted.


Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were in Australia because Mr. Hanks is about to

start production on a new film there.


Tonight, Warner Brothers was making that movie, a statement about it,

saying quote: The health and safety of our company members is always our

top priority. We are taking precautions to protect everyone who works on

our productions around the world.


On a night like tonight, a person you would probably like to hear from is

someone who has actually run an American national response to a viral

outbreak and knows what the government can do in a crisis like this. We`re

now by Ron Klain, who`s chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al

Gore. He was the presidentially appointed coordinator of the Ebola response

in the Obama White House.


Ron, thank you very much for joining us tonight. It`s good to have you



KLAIN:  Thanks for having me, Rachel.


MADDOW:  They appreciate you stepping in to help us responds to the

president`s Oval Office address. Now that you had a couple of minutes to

absorb what the proposed and what he said, let me ask you what was most

important – most interesting about what he announced.


KLAIN:  Well, I think the unevenness and inexplicability of this travel

restriction, which we talked about a little bit earlier, really starts to

stick out at you. The exemption of the U.K., even though there are 12

countries in Europe, actually with fewer cases than the U.K., the fact that

people can travel to and from Korea. There is a warning against it, but

it`s not banned. Korea has the second most cases in the entire world.


MADDOW:  Wait, so the president has been bragging on the travel ban that he

instituted related to China.


KLAIN:  China, yes.


MADDOW:  He has now instituted a travel ban for travel from Europe to the

U.S., excluding the U.K.


KLAIN:  Yes.


MADDOW:  But there has never been a travel ban in terms of South Korea to

the U.S.?


KLAIN:  Correct. And I think, and again, even with the China travel ban,

with the European travel ban, there has been a lot of exceptions to it,

exceptions for commerce, to allow businesses to ship things back and forth,

with the people that come along with the goods.


And so, these travel bans, I think they do have some effect, at slightly

slowing the pace, but they aren`t a virtual wall to protect our country.

We`re seeing that. The disease is here. It`s spreading.


And I think the problem was this. It gave us – it gave the president the

false sense of security, or maybe trying to convey a false sense of

security. And if it bought time, that time was squandered.


I look back on this, Rachel and what we will see, we knew this was coming

in December, we knew it was coming in January, the president talked tough

on travel and in the meantime we weren`t getting ready on testing, we

weren`t getting our health care facilities ready. We weren`t doing the

things we needed to do knowing this was coming.


We had the warning. That`s the – that`s the real tragedy here. We had a

warning that this was coming and the kind of numbers that were coming and

we are still sitting here having a conversation here about testing.


Tom Hanks got tested because he is in Australia. If Tom Hanks was in New

York, it would be almost impossible for him to get tested.


MADDOW:  It is so enraging that the U.S. testing situation is, continues to

be a fiasco this far into this.


KLAIN:  Yes.


MADDOW:  And I have read everything I think that has been written about

what went wrong and how it was bollixed up.


KLAIN:  Yes.


MADDOW:  But given it has, and what a crisis for this country that it

likely will not be available testing and I keep coming back to what I know

is a stupid question about it, why can`t we just copy the tests and the

testing protocols that some of our closest allies around the world are



I mean, the president just exempted the U.K. from the European travel ban.

Well, the health minister in the British government has just tested

positive for coronavirus and asymptomatic. The U.K. government just

announced they`re going to up their testing rate by 500 percent. We seem to

be stuck in neutral and unable to improve on this terrible situation.


KLAIN:  Yes, it`s a failure of leadership by the president and his task



I mean, look, we have – and so what the White House has done the past week

is essentially said we`re going to privatize testing. We`re going to allow

big testing labs, Quest and LabCorp, to run the tests. And so, if you go to

a doctor and want to get tested, they`re going to send your tests to one of

these private labs.


And leaving aside the fact that leaves us without a clear and consistent

database on the tests, what we really need to be doing in this country is

testing the people not raising their hands to be tested.




KLAIN:  Every person in a nursing home, every person in a senior center,

every person with one of these preexisting health conditions, we should be

conducting what the public health officials call surveillance. Going out

and looking for the disease. Not just waiting for people to show up in

their doctors` office and say I need a test and if that doctor can get you

to a private lab, you get a test.


MADDOW:  If the U.S. government took your advice and decided they`re going

to do testing on that scale, could they source tests internationally to

literally raise the number of tests in our stockpile that we could use for

that kind of purpose?


KLAIN:  I mean, it`s a little late in the day for that because those tests

are in high demand in other countries too. But we could do more to produce

test in this country, could ramp that up and I think there is a decision to

largely privatize it and kind of let it solve itself. It`s not going to

solve itself.


One difference between our country and other countries is that we have a

lot of our seniors in nursing homes. A lot of other countries, they take

care of old people in the home. And so, there is a reason to think this

disease is worse here than Korea where we have so many people congregated

in these nursing centers. Unless we go out and find where the disease is,

some – more and more instances like what we`ve seen in Washington state

are going to repeat themselves around the country.


MADDOW:  With the kind of epidemiological curve that we are seeing right

now in terms of the number of cases, given the caveat that we have no idea

how many cases because of the testing, but with the increase that we`re

seeing nonetheless, if we are heading toward very large numbers of

Americans being infected with this virus, and as Dr. Fauci said, we`re

looking at a 15 to 20 percent serious illness rate among those who get

infected, should we expect that American hospitals are going to get crushed

by a flood of very sick people?


KLAIN:  Rachel, we should expect that, and, frankly, not even if we get

anywhere near the numbers we were talking about in the last segment. We

only have a million hospital beds in this country, 700,000 of them are full

with people who are sick right now.


MADDOW:  How many hospital beds do we have?


KLAIN:  A million.


MADDOW:  One million.


KLAIN:  Now, of course, people come in and out of them. So, over the course

of a year, we hospitalize about 35 million people in the country, but as

you said in the last segment also, Rachel, people were hospitalized with

this. If you`re serious enough to go to the hospital with this, you`re

going to be there for awhile. This isn`t a two-day hospitalization thing.

And the problem is this. You know, if you get a crush of cases in a

particular city, a city like New York that could be big cities, not just

talking about small cities where capacity is limited.


We have limited numbers of ventilators, 65,000 ventilators for the whole

country. Almost all of them are at use during flu season. If this really

kicks up and creates just even a small increase, we`re going to see

hospitals in this country and particular places overwhelmed, and seems like

we`re seeing in Italy with people in the hallways, people not being able to

get care.


You find in these epidemics around the world almost as many people die not

from the epidemic but inability to get health care for other things. People

get a chest pain, they don`t go to the hospital because the line is too

long or because they`re afraid of getting the virus when they go to the

hospital and coronary instances go up.


So, this is going to have effects on our health care system that go beyond

even the dramatic effects of the virus itself.


MADDOW:  Is it predictable where that`s going to happen? Or does the

pandemic terminology not just mean that it`s internationally everywhere,

but we should we expect it to be everywhere domestically, as well?


KLAIN:  I think we should it to probably be everywhere but not at the same





KLAIN:  And I think the problem – again, one of the problems with the

testing, you want intelligence of where it is and where it`s going, and if

you don`t have measures, if you look at a map now, Johns Hopkins website,

the best map, you see that there are states with many cases and states with

zero cases. There aren`t states with zero cases, there are states with zero





KLAIN:  And so, we don`t really know where it is. We`re fighting an enemy

we don`t know where it is.


MADDOW:  What could, what should the government do to surge capacity in

American hospitals and prep for that now before we see it start to happen?

I mean, we`ve all seen these testimonials from Italian doctors, right,

talking about the Lombardi region and knowing that it was going to happen

because there was a large center of infection in that region and the

doctors were prepared for it, they knew it was coming, they still couldn`t

do anything to manage the capacity, to manage the ultimate numbers that

turned up.


We`re in the position now where we know that`s about to happen, hasn`t

started yet. That feels like gold in terms of the time but can we do

anything with this time to make sure we can handle it when it happens?


KLAIN:  I think we could. One thing I put a star on, we have to watch for a

pivot in the Trump administration rhetoric. I think, increasingly, they

will say hey, this is a state and local problem. We`re here to provide

technical expertise but solving this is up to governors and mayors.


I think they`re going to try to push this problem downward. The federal

government does have tools, right? We have FEMA we could use. They`re

really good at building things quickly after hurricanes and earthquakes.

They might be able to deploy to build temporary hospitals in cities and

places that need them. Governors could use the national guard.


MADDOW:  Mass units. Hospital tents.


KLAIN:  Yes, exactly. That`s again what we do when there is a horrible

hurricane or horrible tornado that kind of wipes out a medical facility,

FEMA can sometimes do that.


We need to be really creative about it`s going to happen. You see what is

going on in Korea. Not just extreme care but testing, drive thru testing to

get the testing out of the health care center, protect the personnel,

protect you when you`re being tested from being infected by others. We need

to be creative.


We`re not really seeing that from the White House. What we`re seeing is

kind of vague statements and vague direction but not that kind of push to



MADDOW:  Did you tonight when you found out the president would give this

Oval Office address, did you expect the national disaster declaration?


KLAIN:  Well, I read the explanation one way or the other, and it was – I

never bet on what Donald Trump is going to do in any particular –


MADDOW:  Would it have been helpful if he did that? There is reporting the

president didn`t like the sound of that, essentially, that it contradicted

his overall “it`s going to be OK” message.


KLAIN:  Look, Rachel, I don`t really call what label he puts on it. He

called it a public health emergency three months ago, but hasn`t acted like

it`s a public health emergency. He can call it whatever what he wants to

call it. He called it a frog for all I care.


The question is, when he wakes up tomorrow morning and the people of the

White House wake up tomorrow morning, what are the ten to dos to fight this

problem and where are they on the ten to dos at the end of the day?

Congress gave them $8 billion last week. How much money is spent in the

first five days, first ten days, 20 days? It`s some basics about blocking

and tackling. These are fundamentally logistical challenges that require

leadership and accountability.


MADDOW:  In terms of what`s about to happen next –


KLAIN:  Yes.


MADDOW:  There`s obviously big stuff we`re thinking about as a country and

as part of a global community. Laurie Garrett is a Pulitzer Prize-winning

science journalist, today, wrote a very provocative piece at “Foreign

Policy” that was headlined, it`s time to cancel the U.S. presidential

campaign. Not the election but the campaign. Obviously, a very striking



At the other end – if you turn the telescope around the other way, when I

go home from here tonight when all of us turn off the TV tonight and start

thinking about how this affects our own lives, we`re thinking about, should

I change the way I interact with the elderly people in my life? I don`t

think I`m sick. I don`t think I have symptoms. I don`t think I`ve been

exposed but should I limit my interactions with older people who I work

with or who are part of my family?


I mean, whose best position to give that advice right now and who should we



KLAIN:  Well, I absolutely trust Dr. Fauci. I trust the career officials

for the Centers for Disease Control, but I worry they are being muzzled by

the president forced to soft pedal their advice.


And we know already that Dr. Nancy Messonnier who said, was the first

person to say that this was inevitable kind of got sidelined and subjected

to a right-wing attack that her brother is Rod Rosenstein and all kind of -



MADDOW:  She`s part of the deep state and that`s the reason why she said it

was a serious problem. Yes.


KLAIN:  Look, when you have a crisis like this, the deep state is what

fights a crisis like this. It`s the men and women permanent government

servants, who are people that work with me on the Ebola response, they`re

still there. They`re great people, great scientists, great public servants.

They need to be turned loose to solve this problem, not distrusted and



MADDOW:  Let me ask you about one last thing, Ron. You were Vice President

Biden`s chief of staff.


KLAIN:  Yes.


MADDOW:  You know him well. He today announced that he was cancelling

events or converting them to virtual campaign events in Florida and I think


KLAIN:  Chicago, yes.


MADDOW:  Chicago.


He`s going to give a speech tomorrow on coronavirus. When he made that

announcement about his fourth coming event, when he and Senator Sanders

cancelled rallies last night in Ohio, the Trump reelection campaign

actually came out and attacked them today, saying that he was looking for

an excuse to cancel his events and President Trump isn`t going to do that

sort of thing.


We just got word a moment ago quote, out of an abundance of caution from

the coronavirus outbreak, the president has decided to cancel upcoming

events in Colorado and Nevada contributed to White House Spokeswoman

Stephanie Grisham.


Is it wise for everybody to cancel everything, for everybody to cancel all

events that might have large numbers of people at them?


KLAIN:  I think that – I`m not sure everybody cancelling everything. I

think these very large events should be postponed for now until we get a

better grip on it.


MADDOW:  Especially if they`re not necessary, if they`re optional events,

they`re elective large crowds.


KLAIN:  I think, you know, I certainly think the very large should be.

Look, there is always risk at our society and democracy is important.


And I`m not, you know, I think that we should continue with the

presidential campaign. There is a lot of technology to it. There`s a lot of

ways for Senator Sanders and Vice President Biden and President Trump to

reach voters, to communicate with voters that don`t involve putting large

groups of people together. And I think until we have a better grip on where

the risks are, better grip on the testings, we know where the disease is,

some caution here is advised.


MADDOW:  Ron Klain, chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al

Gore, coordinator of the Ebola response in the Obama White House, Ron,

thank you for being here.


KLAIN:  Thank you, Rachel.


MADDOW:  Good to see you.


KLAIN:  Elbow bump.


MADDOW:  All right. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again





Good evening, Lawrence.







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